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Lecture | colloquium

CANCELLED: Florence Nightingale Colloquium: Iris van Rooij

Friday 15 December 2023
Snellius Gebouw
Niels Bohrweg 1
2333 CA Leiden


Unfortunately, due to illness of the speaker, this events is cancelled.

Reclaiming AI as a theoretical tool for cognitive science

The idea that human cognition is, or can be understood as, a form of computation is a useful conceptual tool for cognitive science. It was a foundational assumption during the birth of cognitive science as a multidisciplinary field, with Artificial Intelligence (AI) as one of its contributing fields. One conception of AI in this context is as a provider of computational tools (frameworks, concepts, formalisms, models, proofs, simulations, etc.) that support theory building in cognitive science. The contemporary field of AI, however, has taken the theoretical possibility of explaining human cognition as a form of computation to imply the practical feasibility of realising human(-like or -level) cognition in factual computational systems; and, the field frames this realisation as a short-term inevitability. Yet, as we formally prove herein, creating systems with human(-like or -level) cognition is intrinsically computationally intractable. This means that any factual AI systems created in the short-run are at best decoys.

When we think these systems capture something deep about ourselves and our thinking, we induce distorted and impoverished images of ourselves and our cognition. In other words, AI in current practice is deteriorating our theoretical understanding of cognition rather than advancing and enhancing it. The situation could be remediated by releasing the grip of the currently dominant view on AI and by returning to the idea of AI as a theoretical tool for cognitive science. In reclaiming this older idea of AI, however, it is important not to repeat conceptual mistakes of the past (and present) that brought us to where we are today.

This is joint work with Olivia Guest, Federico Adolfi, Ronald de Haan, Antonina Kolokolova, and Patricia Rich. The full paper is available here.

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